Mangia Questo!

No purists beyond this point.

Emergency Teriyaki Sauce July 10, 2009

Filed under: minimal effort — mangiaquesto @ 10:13 pm
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I’m not going to say this is true teriyaki sauce because, to be honest, I have no idea what goes into the real deal.  All I know is tonight I wanted salmon teriyaki, and I had salmon but no teriyaki.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is a recipe that will fill the teriyaki void and give you a similar look and taste.  For two salmon fillets or two chicken breasts, you’ll need:

1/4 cup of liquid honey

1/4 cup of light/low sodium soy sauce (if you don’t have light, use between 1/8 and 1/4 cup to ensure it doesn’t make your sauce too salty)

4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (probably optional, or substitute 1 tsp. rice vinegar)

1 clove of garlic, grated, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Put all ingredients in a microwave safe container or, better yet, build the sauce it in a pyrex measuring cup to avoid dirtying other measuring cups.  Microwave for 30 seconds to soften the honey then stir to combine.   Voilà!

For salmon, pour over fillets, turning to coat.  Bake 12-15 minutes in a small glass baking dish or other shallow baking dish, basting with sauce once or twice.  Serve over rice.


Garden Risotto May 29, 2009

Filed under: Italiano,one-dish,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 11:21 am

GdnRisotoThis risotto is full of vegetables and makes a nice main or side dish.  It uses red vermouth instead of wine, which gives it a rich flavour and means you don’t have to mess around with spicing to get a nice flavour.  To make 4 servings as a main dish, you’ll need:

4 cups of chicken stock (you might not use it all) – You can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion or a shallot

2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

1-1/2 to 2 carrots, quartered then sliced (1/8″ thick)

1 zucchini, quartered then sliced (1/8″ thick)

1/3 cup frozen peas

1-1/2 cups of arborio or carnaroli rice

1/4 cup of red vermouth (I’m sure white vermouth would be fine too)

1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese

Before you start, here are some basic risotto tips.  The biggest thing is not to rush it.  You can’t add all of the stock at once, but rather need to add it a ladle-full at a time.  Another difference between this and most dishes is that it needs your full attention.  Don’t leave it on the stove and go do something else.  You should be stirring almost the whole time.  

Prep all of the vegetables.  Heat the chicken stock in a pot over medium-low heat.  You’ll need to keep it warm throughout the risotto cooking process.  In a deep pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and zucchini.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes then add peas.

Pour the rice into the pan and toast it for 1-2 minutes (it should start to look somewhat transparent).  Add the vermouth and a ladle full of the warm chicken stock.  Stir regularly until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  The rest of the risotto making follows the same pattern:  Add a ladle full of warm stock, stir and wait for it to absorb, add a ladle full of stock, stir and wait for it to absorb…you get the idea.

Once the rice is no longer crunchy, but still a bit al dente (“to the teeth” = just a bit chewy), stop adding stock and stir in the parmesan cheese.  The risotto should have a creamy texture.  Serve immediately.  Buon appetito!



Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche April 4, 2009

Filed under: vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 10:25 pm
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CrustlessQuicheOnce you try this, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered making a regular old quiche with a crust.  Save time and unnecessary fat and calories by making this healthier alternative.  You need:

1 bunch of broccoli (2 crowns)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-3 dashes of hot sauce
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously.  Chop broccoli and add to the pot.  Blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and shock (rinse under cold water).

Grease a glass or ceramic pie dish with margarine or cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add milk, salt, pepper, hot sauce and flour.  Stir well to get rid of lumps.

Add the broccoli to the pie dish and cover with the grated cheese.  Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and cheese.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Buon appetito!


My Favourite BBQ Sauce March 30, 2009

Filed under: finds,grill/bbq,minimal effort — mangiaquesto @ 8:53 pm

Welcome to Busters Barbeque Restaurant

Photo from

With the warm weather coming and summer fast approaching, there’s no better time to discover a new BBQ sauce favourite.  This stuff tastes like no BBQ sauce I’ve had before.  It’s called Busters Blueberry BBQ Sauce, and it’s made in Northwestern Ontario.  It is to die for on grilled chicken, and I recently tried it on pork side ribs and was amazed.  The blueberry flavour is not prominent, but it is fruity and smoky with a little spice.  Word on the street is it’s now available at Sobey’s across Canada, so you won’t have to make the trek to Vermillion Bay to get some.  If you are lucky enough to be in the area, you can also enjoy it in-house at Busters BBQ Restaurant.  As an added bonus, it’s more reasonably priced than most of the “gourmet” sauces I see at craft and home shows.  It’s a must-have for BBQ season.  Mangia!


Corn and Crab Quiche February 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mangiaquesto @ 7:33 pm

crabandcornquicheThis is a healthier version of a crab quiche that I made last night for the first time.  It was easy and sooooo delicious.  I used imitation crab because it happened to be on sale at my grocery store.  If you don’t like imitation crab, you could use real crab meat, which might even make it better.  For my version, you need:

A pie crust (Try the beginner pie crust if you want, or your favorite recipe, or store-bought)

One package (225g/80z) of flake-style imitation crab meat

4 eggs

1 cup of milk (I used 1% and didn’t miss the fat at all, but you can use whole milk, evaporated milk or cream to make it richer)

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (medium or old/sharp)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1/2 cup of frozen corn

3 dashes of tobasco sauce (at least!)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 °F.  Using a fork, flake the crab into smaller pieces.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Add milk, corn, cheddar and parmesan cheese, crab, tobasco sauce, salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the quiche in the oven for another 25-30 minutes (don’t open the door!).  You’ll know it’s done when a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean and not wet.  Buon appetito!  This also makes great leftovers.


Home-Made Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Walnuts January 18, 2009

Filed under: finds,grill/bbq,Italiano,one-dish,Uncategorized,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 1:23 am

Pumpkin and squash season is winding down, so here’s a way to use them while they’re at their best.  This recipe is more of a project than an everyday meal idea, but the good news is that it’s not something you can really mess up.  It might take a while, but you’ll like the results…and you’ll feel like a master chef.  I find this kind of cooking therapeutic, and more of a hobby than a necessity.  If you’re in a rush, but still want a similar end result, I’ve included some time-savers in case don’t want to make the recipe completely from scratch.  To make four servings, you’ll need:

Home-Made Pasta, 1 batch

If you don’t want to make your own pasta from scratch (I don’t blame you, it’s fairly labour intensive), you could use wonton wrappers, or buy the fresh lasagna sheets from the refrigerated pasta section.


One pie pumpkin or other squash (butternut, acorn, hubbard…whatever is available)

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

a pinch of nutmeg

salt & pepper, to taste

I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin, as long as it’s not seasoned.


1/3 cup butter

1 tbsp olive oil

40 fresh sage leaves

1/3 to 1/2 cup of walnut pieces

If you’re using fresh pumpkin or squash, the first step is to roast it.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Pour some water into a shallow baking pan (a cookie sheet with edges is fine, you just need enough water to cover the bottom).  Break off the stem of the squash or pumpkin, cut it in half and remove the seeds and stringy inside (this isn’t part of the recipe, but roasted squash and pumpkin seeds are delicious, so you could soak them in some water to clean them off, wrinse and drain them, then salt them lightly and spread them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for about 20-25 minutes).  Back to the current recipe:  Bake the pumpkin or squash halves cut-side down for about 1 hour, until soft (you can tell they’re done when you can easily piece the skin with a fork)

Once the pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium mixing bowl.  Mash it well with a fork or use an immersion/hand blender.  Add the parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Now the real magic happens.  If you made your own pasta, I suggest flattening out one sheet of pasta at a time and laying it on your counter.  Use a round glass to cut circles out of the pasta sheet, making them as close together as possible.  Like cookie dough, you could roll the scraps into a ball when you’re done and run them through the pasta machine to make another sheet.  If you’re using wonton wrappers you can have square ravioli instead.  On every second pasta circle, place a little bit of the filling (about a tablespoon), leaving about a quarter inch of edging all the way around so you can close the ravioli.  Place another pasta circle on top and press the edges first with your fingers, then with a fork to make a good seal.

Once the ravioli are made, place them in a large container (or on a plate) lined with damp paper towel and cover it with damp paper towels as well.  Separate layers of ravioli a with more damp paper towel.

In a large pan, melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat with the olive oil, sage leaves and walnut pieces.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well.  Add the ravioli and cook for 3 minutes.

Drain the ravioli (don’t rinse!) and add it to the pan with the sage butter sauce.  Serve and enjoy all you hard work!

P.S…This is also pretty good reheated in the microwave.


Home-Made Pasta December 8, 2008

Filed under: Italiano,staple,Uncategorized,vegetarian — mangiaquesto @ 11:43 pm
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Making4There’s something amazing about fresh pasta that you just can’t get with pre-packaged grocery store pasta.  It’s a bit of work, but a pasta machine helps.  You can do it without (and I have), but I don’t recommend it unless you’re looking for a really serious arm workout.  I suggest getting a pasta machine with a crank handle and the basic lasagna and fettucine/spaghetti cutters, nothing too fancy (I got mine for about $20 at Benix in Toronto).  Once you taste homemade pasta I’m sure you’ll be using it a lot!  To make four heaping plates of amazing fresh pasta, you will need:

3 cups of all-purpose flour

4 large eggs



The traditional way of making pasta is to make a mound of flour on your marble counter and make a well in it.  Then you crack the eggs into the well and very gently beat them with a fork, gradually incorporating flour into the centre well.  I’ve tried this twice with zero success: The flour levy always breaks and I end up with egg all over my counter.  If, like me, you’re a pasta novice, I suggest doing the above in a large mixing bowl.  I think you get the same results, minus the eggy mess on your counter. 


Once the egg and flour are incorporated, add water a tiny bit at a time until the dough holds together nicely and is neither sticky nor crumbly.  Knead it for 3 to 5 minutes, then place the dough back in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for at least half an hour, then break out the pasta machine.  


In case you got a pasta machine with no instructions, here’s how to use it: Take a piece of dough about the size of your fist and flatten it down into a disc.  The key to getting it to run smoothly through the pasta machine is lots of flour.  Sprinkle flour on both sides of the dough and spread it around with your hand.  Set your pasta machine to 7 using the adjuster (or whatever makes the gap between the rollers the widest) and start trying to squish the dough disk between the rollers as you turn the crank.  It helps to really squish down the lip of the dough and let the roller take care of the rest.  Run the dough through at 7 twice, then reduce the dial to 6.  Run it through once on each setting, reducing the space between the rollers each time until you get to 1.  Run it through more times as needed if the dough gets twisted or folded.  You may need to sprinkle more flour on the dough if it starts feeling sticky as you go.  Once you have a nice flat sheet of pasta, you can attach the fettucine cutter.  On my pasta machine, you have to take the crank handle off and move it to another spot to turn the fettucine cutter.  Feed the sheet of pasta through the fettucine cutter to make noodles.  If you aren’t in the mood for fettucine, you can use the sheets of pasta for lasagna, cut them into large rectangles and roll them into manicotti or canelloni, cut the pasta randomly to make maltagliato (literally, “badly cut”) pasta, or use a round glass to cut it into circles for ravioli. 

For fettucine, sprinkle flour over the cut noodles to keep them from clumping up.  If you’re making sheets to use for ravioli, etc., place them on a plate and cover with a slightly damp paper towel, then layer more pasta over the paper towel, cover that with paper towel, and so on. Fresh pasta needs very little cooking time (only about 3 minutes), but it still expands a lot through cooking.  Cook the pasta in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water.  Serve with your favourite sauce.

This recipe makes a lot of pasta (probably enough for two generous meals for two people, plus leftovers each time).  If you don’t have time to roll out and cut the rest of the pasta you can freeze the dough in a zipper freezer bag, probably for about a month.  If you can stick it out and roll out and cut all of the noodles, make sure they’re generously floured then lay them on your counter to dry for about an hour.  You can then roll them into little nests (if they’re fettucine or spaghetti) or just toss them in a container before putting them in the freezer.  Enjoy!